A Guide For Where To Place Your Solar Panels

It is easy to understand that solar panels work best when they can get as much direct sunlight as possible. So, it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we get asked is “What is the best direction for solar panels?” 

The position of solar panels can be hugely significant in determining their output; and when your panels’ output affects their cost-effectiveness it is essential to get it right.

Whether you are having a domestic or a commercial solar panel installation, it is important to understand the factors involved in finding the ideal location for your panels to get the most out of your system. The direction and position of your panels can have a remarkably large effect on their efficiency, so it’s worth spending some time to get this right.

Here we’ve provided a detailed guide to some of the important points you need to know about where you should place your solar panels and which way to point solar panels.




Which direction is best for solar panels?

For homes in the UK, the optimal roof location for solar panels is south-facing. A south-facing roof receives maximum sunlight over the course of a day, especially in the northern parts of the UK. With a south-facing roof, your solar panels will produce the greatest amount of energy overall, but east or west-facing roofs can also work well and will produce energy for a large portion of the day.

North-facing roofs are the most unfavourable option for solar panels, since they receive very little direct sunlight. North-facing panels will need to be angled much more steeply, around 60 degrees, to capture as much of the indirect and reflected light as possible, but the energy output will still be much lower than other roof locations throughout the year. We would advise against installing solar PV on an entirely northern facing roof and using alternative aspects instead.





Which angle is best for solar panels?

There is virtually no debate regarding the most effective direction of solar panels. However, opinions vary when it comes to the best angle to optimise energy generation. If you were directly on the equator this would be simple, as a horizontal panel at 90 degrees would always have the sun directly above. However, for solar panels in most other locations, the sun’s angle changes throughout the year.

The optimal angle will depend on the specifics of your property and the angle of your roof. Ideally your panels should be pointing directly at the sun in the middle of the day during the summer. A good rule of thumb for maximum annual energy output is to tilt your panels at an angle equal to your latitude. For example, if you live in a place with a latitude of 35 degrees, tilting your panels at 35 degrees would be optimal.

Bear in mind that this will make your solar PV system slightly less effective in the winter, because the sun is lower in the sky later in the year. Some homeowners and businesses choose to tilt their panels at an angle between their latitude and latitude plus 15 degrees, for the best year-round production.

The good news is that for most areas, positioning your solar panels within 30 to 45 degrees of your latitude will still provide good year-round energy production. So, while the optimal angle varies based on location and goals, solar panels can work effectively for homes and businesses at a wide range of angles. Our experienced solar panel installers can help you determine the angle that is most suitable for your property and you will receive information on your expected generation before you go ahead.


Which is more important: direction or angle?

The angle of your solar panels is certainly important, but the most critical factor in terms of maximising energy production from your solar PV system is the direction the panels face. As we’ve discussed, a south-facing roof will provide the biggest output, but other properties may still generate power. To check whether your property is a good fit for solar panels, contact us to have an assessment carried out on your home by a member of our team.


How does the design of my roof factor in?

There are so many styles of property that roof designs can vary between homes and commercial premises, which in turn affects how solar panels are positioned. Many house roofs have slopes of between 30 and 40 degrees, so the panels can lie flush and produce sufficient electricity. However, if your roof is steeper or shallower than this, it will affect the mounting system used. In either case, a specialised mounting may be needed to fit the panels to your property. For properties with flat roofs, your mounting system will be used to tilt the panels upwards and they will be spaced to prevent the from shading each other.


Do they have to be attached to the roof?

If you do not have adequate space for solar panels or prefer not to mount them on your roof, installing ground mounts is an excellent alternative. With ground mounts, solar panels are mounted on freestanding frames placed in open areas of your property like your yard or garden.

However, free-standing solar panels can also be valuable as they can be placed facing south and at any angle you wish. Alternatively, integrated solutions such as façade and flat-roof solar panels can be used to replace conventional building materials.

Ground mounts offer more flexibility in positioning and angling your solar panels compared to roof mounts. They can be oriented south for maximum exposure and tilted at the optimal angle for your location. Ground mounts do require available space on the ground clear of shade, but they can be a simple way to achieve an efficient solar setup if you have the room.

There are some downsides to consider with ground mounted solar panels. They are more at risk of shading from surrounding trees, buildings or other obstacles which can then impact energy generation. They’re also more prone to the effects of weather like heavy winds, requiring sturdy frames and mounts which can increase installation costs.


Are certain types of panels more effective?

There are several types of solar PV solutions. The most common are polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels. Polycrystalline are the most popular option and the cheaper of the two, but they’re also less efficient. The more expensive but more efficient are monocrystalline solar panels.

Polycrystalline solar panels are made from melted and cooled silicon fragments. They tend to be cheaper to produce but are less efficient, typically converting 13-18% of sunlight into electricity. Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single silicon crystal and tend to be more expensive but convert 15-24% of sunlight. Panel efficiency can impact the number of panels needed for your system and available space on your roof or property. More efficient panels mean you will need a smaller system to achieve the same energy output.

If we have got you thinking about where you can install solar panels at your property, get in touch with us today.

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